Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

Hey all,

Just took my NE Dory (Sloop rigged) out the other day for it's first couple sailing trips. However, almost immediately I ran into some issues sailing the boat. Now, one caveat is that I am waiting on a replacement jib sail, so have been sailing with only the main. If that is the answer to all my problems, great! But I somewhat doubt it is.

Here is what's happening: Sailing downwind or even to a beam reach or so is fine, albeit a bit slower than I would've anticipated given how light the boat is, and in 5-7 kt winds. However, the issue I seem to have is that if I try to bring the boat up into the wind at all, the boat will strongly resist, even with the rudder almost hard over, and will eventually just fall off the wind until it is basically downwind, even past a beam reach. In my mind, it feels like the rudder/keel are not doing their job, or the sails are highly imbalanced (missing jib). Have other folks encountered this? What could be the cause?

A related secondary question: with the jib and main up, how close to the wind should I be able to get in the NE dory? I've seen a range of answers here, but nothing specific: can it do 45 degrees to the wind? Just a bit upwind from a beam reach? Any help here would be greatly appreciated so that I can gauge if me or the boat is the issue...thanks!

17 replies:

« Previous Post       List of Posts       Next Post »

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   Yeah so it depends on the boat design, basically a balance is struck between the main and jib.  With only one up you will get weather or lee helm. My guess is this goes away with the jib.

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   If you want to google a bit look up center of effort and center of lateral resistance. I can't answer specifics for the Dory, maybe John will see this and be able to answer.

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

What you've described is a strong "lee helm"--boat wants to fall off the wind if one lets go of the tiller.  Sailing under main alone, one would expect the opposite effect--"weather helm"--if anything, so this has me scratchin' my head like a monkey lookin' at a red rubber ball.

Is your daggerboard all the way down when this happens?  I only ask that because what you've described is exactly what would happen if the daggerboard wasn't down.  I once had our Menger 19's centerboard shear off out in a good breeze in Lake Erie, and she immediately began refusing to head up into the wind, just as you described.

Does the boat behave the same way on either tack?



RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   @Gramps, Exactly! That's why I am so confused as to what the issue is...

The daggerboard is definitely all the way down, but it certainly 'feels' like it isn't providing as much lateral resistance as it should be.

Another thing I noticed about the boat (it was built by another person, but never sailed before) is that it seems that for whatever reason, they decided to have the mainsail begin higher up the mast than what I assume the plans call for/what I've seen from other NE dories in pictures/videos (Maybe they just wanted more headroom). Would a higher sail potentially cause these sailing issues? Just a thought.

In terms of the issues happening on one tack or another, they definitely still occur on either tack, just maybe not as badly on a starboard tack as a port tack. 

Thanks again all

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   My dory has the lug rig so I can't really answer your question, but I just came off the lake after the best sailing day of the summer in the Ozarks. The steady breeze was in the 10 - 15 mph range, but there were decent gusts of 20 and 25. In those conditions the dory rises onto a plane quite nicely, with boat speed topping out at 9 - 10 mph. I need Michael to dream up the right analogy for how much fun that is!

To get back to my take-out point, I needed to make my way straight upwind and my gps track suggests that the boat was sailing at 45-degrees to the wind. It doesn't really enjoy that sort of exercise and would clearly prefer to be on a beam reach, but like a slightly balky horse it will respond to reins and spur.

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

For Birch2, try: "Like riding a spirited young the dark...with no bridle."

For Tim B93: The only other thing I can think of would cause this might be if she's trimmed significantly down by the stern.  This is something to which long, skinny, fine ended boats like this are especially vulnerable, and it's important to keep the load balanced and concentrated amidships as much as possible.

Looking at the NED photo gallery, it seems to me that the boat is designed to trim out level with a single rower seated on the midship thwart.  If you are siting on the thwart aft of that when sailing, you might need to compensate by shifting some other weights forward.  If you are normally travelling pretty light, the quickest way to try that might be to bring a passenger along to sit somewhere forward of the midship thwart to balance you out steering from aft.  Or, if your tiller stick is long enough, try steering from the midship thwart, as I observe some folks doing in the NED photo gallery.

Hope that helps.



RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

I just got around to reading this thread (since I don't own a NED) and I think that Gramps is right. By the 3rd post I was thinking trimmed down at the stern. If there's too much weight too far back, that moves the center of gravity aft, back beyond the center of pressure, So then the hull and sails act as feathers on an arrow and turn the boat downwind. I'm willing to bet that if you follow Gramps's advice you'll fix it.


RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   I weigh about 150 pounds and always sit on the aft thwart when I sail my lug-rigged dory. The only times I ever have trouble steering is when I move my weight further forward. That pulls the rudder out of the water a little and it can then lack sufficient purchase on the water to provide steering control. It can be prone to broaching when jibing in a strong wind with a following sea.

I guess the answer is to experiment with the boat's trim until the sweet spot is found. I suspect that a heavier skipper should sit further forward than I do.

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

Try checking on the mast rake. From what you describe, it might benefit from the mast leaning back some, and the northeaster sloop was definitely designed t have some of that.

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

On further refletion, a couple more thoughts....

First, to what Birch2 noted above, yeah, the shallow rudder makes this a trickier proposition.  When I noted that the boat appeared to be balanced with a single rower seated amidships, I wasn't accounting for the fact that the rower was seated facing aft, which puts the legs and a lot of the weight aft of the seat.  Sailing from there, one would probably sit sidewise, maybe even straddling the seat or even facing forward, thus maybe trimming her forward more than when rowing.  Plus, which, you wouldn't care much about about the rudder when rowing and have probably unshipped it to reduce drag and keep it from messing you up.

Second, you want to make sure your outhaul on the foot of the mainsail is set up with correct tension so that the sail will set without showing a "hook" along the leech.  You can get away with this when reaching or running--think about how spinnakers look when running or broad reaching.  This won't do for going to windward.  When close hauled, the boom should lie about 10-15 degrees off to leeward with the after part of the sail flowing off about parallel to the centerline.  If the leech is "hooking" back toward the centerline, it'll kill the drive and maybe cause some steering difficulty.

As Birch2 has noted, try some different things and you should eventually find the sweet spot.  Going upwind is the tricky part, after all.  Anybody can make a boat, or even a bathtub, go downwind by standing up and spreading your arms.  <;-)


RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   Hey everyone, just an update after making a few changes: 1. Moved the gooseneck down about a foot to its original position based on the design. 2. Added some aft mast rake (seemed to have some forward mast rake before, not good) 3. Finally picked up my jib sail (was sailing with just the main before).

After making these changes, I observed the following: the upwind performance has increased slightly, but I'm still lucky to get anything more than around 5 degrees into the wind. The big problem is still there: the boat always falls off the wind once I get to around 5 degrees into the wind. Sometimes dramatically so, such that I'm basically pushed downwind until I'm sailing into a run until I get the momentum to point back towards even a beam reach. I've sailed a few other designs in the past, from full keel sloops to cat boats, and it 'feels' like there just isn't enough lateral resistance/rudder area. Thoughts? At this point the only thing I can think is that the rudder is not under the water enough, thereby not providing enough turning force to counteract what appears to be some lee helm. I've tried sailing from all positions in the boat and nothing seems to help much. 




RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

Dang, Tim, that is some wicked lee helm there.  The depth of the rudder is the next thing to look at but, if it's in the water enough to steer at all, you should be fighting weather helm once you come up on the wind, not lee helm, unless something is seriously out of whack with the the rig or the daggerboard or the relationship of the two.  I am past scratchin' my head like a monkey lookin' at a red rubber ball and on to shrugging my shoulders like a French diplomat.

I wish I had some better ideas for you, but I am down to crazy stuff like porpoises just messin' with you for fun, sharks tryin' to frustrate you so you throw yourself overboard so they can eat you, jealous sailors secretly attaching underwater drogues to your stern, and other such stupid things which are no help to you whatsoever.  If you can get someone to take photos of you underway and share those with us, maybe we can think of something better which might actually help.


RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

I'd need a photo to diagnose. The sloop-rigged Northeaster Dory is "perfectly hung" balance-wise, sails upwind as well or better than any of her cohort, and most emphatically does not have lee helm.

Sailing without a jib, and with the mast raked forward, would definitely cause serious handling deficiencies. It wouldn't sail to windward in that condition, for one thing. 

As noted, the Northeaster Dory weighs less than some German Shepherds. Where you plant your butt is EVERYTHING in terms of getting the boat to trim right. Glue broken glass on the stern seat if you are unable to resist sitting there.

The sloop-rigged dory is fast and handy when it looks exactly like this:

CLC Northeaster Dory

Instructions for setting up the mast rake are on Page 131 of the manual:

This is about as far aft as I dare sit:

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

   Thanks guys! I will use that information to check my mast rake and make sure it is far enough aft. I purchased the boat from someone who had already built it, so I don't have access to the full construction manual, so that is a great help. 

Will keep everyone updated as my experiment continues (and I'll try to bring someone along next time to take pictures as well!) 








RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

FWIW, the person sailing that dory is sitting on what I call "the aft thwart."  (Am I using proper nauticalise?) That's where I always sit . . . unless the wind is blowing and I am up on the rail.

I think of the position right before the rudder as "the stern sheets." (???)

RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

Birch2, I believe your terminology is correct.  I'd call the various "seats" in this boat the forward thwart, midship thwart, aft thwart and sternsheets, from forward to aft, but, hey, it's English, after all...we're still makin' it up as we go.  <;-)


RE: Northeaster Dory (Sloop) Sailing Issues; What Am I Doing Wrong?

Hi Tim. I have a sloop rigged NED and the only time I've seen any lee helm is when the wind is blowing over 13kts and there are some wind waves, at which point the swells combined with the fluctuating rudder angle can push the bow over a bit to leeward. 

I do have some weather helm before I unfurl the jib, but once that's up and full of wind, the NED does a great job allowing you to control the boat, keep it relatively flat, and point it upwind. 

I sit on what @birch calls the aft thwart, not the stern and I'm frequently with my back to the rail and my feet on the opposite gunwale as the boat gets moving and I need to distribute my weight (150lbs). 

My mast is raked back per plan and my goosneck is a bit lower than plans since i was having some issues getting the luff tight enough. 

One thing that does have an impact on the NED sailing performance is the tightness of the outhaul. I find if I get lazy or overly eager during set-up and have too many loose scallops in the foot of the sail, performance does get a bit wonky since the sail shape is off. Since I have the same rig, you can feel free to email me at tsf.waste at gmail dot com and I will help out if I can. 

« Previous Post     List of Posts     Next Post »

Please login or register to post a reply.